Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Double Dipsea - Dang, that was hard

You may recall that I ran this race last year. In my memory is the incredible beauty of the trail, the great organization and aid stations, the fun people I got to run with and the post-race beer on the beach. Fun times

Apparently I forgot about the hills.

Good God. Selective memory is a crazy thing. Because two hours into this race,  I was NOT in a happy place.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start with the happy bluebirds and marshmallows and giggles.

The Dear Wife and I drove up Friday. We spent the weekend with a friend who lives right there in the Marin hills, not 1/2 a mile from the Dipsea trail. Friday evening we relaxed in Sausalito and listened to an outdoor jazz concert in the warm summer night. It takes a heat wave to be able to sit outside on the San Francisco bay at night in shorts. I hydrated with some wine.

Saturday morning we headed to Stinson Beach for the race, and found my Loop buddies. Everyone was in high spirits. It was sunny and beautiful - also very hot! Temps probably 80-90 during the run.

Mr. Bacon, Kynan and Laura, Me, Mild Sauce, and Will (who ran with us in the Portland 50K)

The Double Dipsea is an out and back race on the famous Dipsea trail. 6.85 miles each way, with two LARGE hills to climb and hundreds of steps, including 600+ in a row at one end of the trail. You are pretty much going up or down the whole way. And it is steep!

The race has staggered starts based on age and sex, so as the elder statesman of the group, I got to start first. The ladies would start two minutes later, and the other young guys had to wait 14 minutes after I left. Mr. Bacon was full of trash talk about how soon he would catch me, so I had a goal. Beat Bacon! I figured that Sauce would catch me at some point and maybe we could run together like in Portland. With the heat, I told myself to just run smart and have fun. But who am I kidding? I wanted to race too.

So off I went!

Soon to be followed by the lovely loop ladies!
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And the dapper young loop menfolk.
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Within 3 minutes I was walking. It just goes straight up. I ran out of oxygen quick and was thinking, oh boy, this is going to be a long, hot day. I ran when I could, walked when my breathing got too hard. Everyone was in the same boat. The trail was crowded. Lots of "on your left" as people passed. But it wasn't too crowded to the point of slowing me down.
My Garmin died, so I have no splits, but last year they ranged from 7:xx to 17:xx. I would average 13:05 for the day.
But it was fun. The trails were beautiful. People were friendly. And we were racing! In a sense anyway. And we get to run through this:


Just after a mile I hear a familiar voice, and Sauce has caught me already! The girl has some serious mountain goat genes or something because she can climb like crazy! We stayed together for a while, but I had to walk more than she could handle, so she slipped away on the long first uphill. I just kept plugging.

I didn't carry any water. I trusted the frequent aid stations would be enough for me. A little risky, but it turned out OK. When I hit the top of the first big hill, I paused for a hose shower, sponges squeezed over my head, and 4 glasses of water and ultima. Boy, that felt good! And then we got to run downhill - even better!

It was like night and day. Now I was re-energized! I could breathe! And run fast! I flew down the rocky trail with little regard for safety. So much fun! Ducking under branches, skipping over roots and rocks. I never fell, and only stubbed a toe once. Some of the race leaders went by at breakneck pace. I followed them as they took a detour - I figured they knew where to go - and I ended up on a fire road which added a tiny bit to the course, but allowed free running without the trip hazards and people, so I could really open it up! Probably sub-7 pace for a while. Lots of fun!

Soon after I rejoined the trail I saw Mild Sauce ahead and caught her. So we got to stay together for a while. But once we bottomed out and started heading back uphill, she lost me again. And I went back to wishing my lungs worked better.

At the next peak, DW had stationed herself to get more photos. First loopster to get there was Mild Sauce, and she popped out a perfect BP.


Not much later I arrived and saw her mid-walk, so I broke into a trot to make it look good.

Not real happy with what that sponge bath did to my hair...No wonder I burnt the heck out of the top of my head.

Then Laura came by full of life and joy.

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And finally the guys, walking. Mr. Bacon is having trouble keeping up with the young'un...

From this point it was downhill again. Wheeeeee!!!! And then the 670 steps. It was still a bit crowded so it was hard to pass, so I just tried not to fall and kept going. Here is a glimpse of one small portion.


At the bottom it is about 50 yards to the turn around and more food and water. I saw Sauce there as we refueled, but she took off without me. I guess she wanted to win...I had a couple more drinks and grabbed a Clif bar for the road (bad idea to try and eat it without water on the steps). Then it was back up.
I still felt OK. The steps were starting to make my quads ache, but I was still moving, and passed a few people. As I went up, I saw Laura and the guys on the way down. Just a quick greeting, but it was nice to see them. Also nice to see Mr. Bacon still pretty far back! It seemed like I had plenty of room still, and I felt good about my chances!

After the steps, the hill keeps on going, so more walking, but eventually we crested and went by DW again, so here's some more pics from peak #3.


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I stopped to get a water bottle from DW, because I was feeling dehydrated, and some guy offers to take a pic of us. Sure, why not?
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Then more fun downhill, including about 1/2 mile on road where I got to open it up to sub-7 and fly! But soon it was over, as we bottomed at Muir Woods and started the long uphill to Cardiac Hill.

This part is the most beautiful, with huge redwoods, narrow trail and funky stone and wood steps. But also the toughest. Very steep and goes on forever. I was just hiking now, and even had to take stop breaks from hiking to catch my breath and stretch my lower back which was really starting to hurt. I really was not enjoying this part because I was going fast enough so I couldn't breathe well. It was work, and felt like it. The legs started to shake on some of the steeper steps. And have I mentioned the heat? It was just shut up and keep going and hope it ends soon. Which it didn't.

After an endless climb, I finally heard the noise of the aid station at the top. Oh joy! Much drinking and sponge bathing, and I was ready to run down to the beach! Nobody caught me on the up, and I didn't think anyone would catch me on the down! So off I went at a decent clip. The last two miles were mostly down. The first part was through a beautiful rainforest, but some VERY steep steps that I had to slow to a walk for. My legs were not strong enough any more to absorb running down steps. The added strength needed to maintain balance was not there. So I was a little disappointed to let my body force me to slow down, but it wasn't for long. Regular downhill trail was no problem.

At one point you pop out into the open and see the beach far down below, and it's beautiful.


The last mile is fun, because the misery is over (other than a couple little inclines just to remind you). The breeze off the ocean felt great. I was booking, just in case someone was sneaking up behind me. But I managed to finish as 2nd Loopster (Mild Sauce was 3 minutes ahead at the finish) and snuck under 3 hours with a 2:59:24.

Laura was less than a minute back (so without the 2-minute head start, she beat me too). Then we all waited for the guys. Finally they came in together - 15 minutes after I finished. So I beat Bacon even without the head start. Let the taunting begin.

No, it was all good. We all celebrated together and went out to the beach for the traditional beer in the Pacific. My time was 47 seconds slower than last year. But the heat was a huge factor. My place went from 334 last year to 223. Last year I beat 47% of the field, and this year I beat 65%, so I'm happy with that. 35th of 66 in my AG. Lots of fast trail runners out there.

My legs were toast. It is now 4 days later, and they still hurt. Quads, calves, back and even arms. Steps and hills really take it out of you.

Bacon had to get back to his previously scheduled vacation, but the rest of us hung out and had lunch and ice cream in Sausalito.
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These two do everything together...sharing ice cream.
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And then they were off and I got to relax for another day with my wife and our local friend. It was a fabulous day on the trails with some great people in a beautiful place. Life is good!

1 comment:

  1. My first thought is: Sausalito. Those are some great cookies.
    Man, just reading your description made me want to chug ice water and rest. "..just shut up and keep going and hope it ends soon. Which it didn't." HA! =D
    Congratulations on a fabulous placement in an ass-kicking race.